On the 27th September (2018) Zebra announced the launch of four new models in the highly successful TC5x and TC7x ranges of Rugged Mobile Touch Computers under the heading ‘The Evolution of a Revolution’.
We look at what enhancements they offer, but first, a brief summary of the 4 new models
TC 52 and TC 57.
The TC5x family are rugged, enterprise level, Android mobile handheld computers – now commonly referred to as Touch Computers or EDAs. The TC52 is WLAN only, and the TC57 denotes WWAN – cellular and wi-fi. Otherwise they are the same.
These are in addition to the existing TC51/TC56 models, which will remain in production alongside the new devices. The accessories family are entirely portable across the model range.
TC72 and TC77
The TC7x family are award winning, premier, ultra rugged, enterprise level Android touch computers; slightly bigger and more rugged than their TC5x cousins. Again the TC72 is WLAN for ‘within four walls’ environments, and the TC77 is WWAN as well. As above the existing TC70 and TC 75X models will remain in production and they share the same accessories.
What do these latest models deliver over the existing TC5x and TC7x devices
The TC5 and TC7 series have a common shared platform which explains the rationale around launching all these 3rd generation models simultaneously. Whilst the competition have been playing ‘catch up’ with the existing devices over the last year or two, Zebra’s enormous R & D investment has now taken them to the next level. As of today these devices are the new benchmark.
- New QC SD660 2.2 Ghz 64 bit octa-core processor is one of the most powerful processors for even faster performance. This processor was specifically developed by Qualcomm in conjunction with Google to address Android OS requirements up to Q (& potentially R).
- Memory upgraded to 8Gb/32GB as standard.
- Bluetooth 5.0, BLE support. BT 5.0 delivers twice the speed and 4 x the range of BT 4.1.
- 2 x 2 MU-MIMO Enterprise Wi-Fi provides faster and more reliable connections and allows access points to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously via pinpoint beamforming. In short better network capacity, speed and range.
- New higher resolution front facing camera with built in support for latest locationing technology (including Visible Light Comms) and video conferencing.
- 4GLTE with HD Voice, plus FirstNet B14 Public Safety Solution (for first responders) plus carrier aggregation. In all, faster upload and download speeds.
- The TC7x now has an additional side mounted scan button for ease of use with either hand
Most importantly, these new models ship with Android O, and Zebra commit to support for them through P & Q. The issue of Android support is often given inadequate weighting in the decision making process. Zebra has by far the most experience in the Android field (7 years) compared to its main enterprise rivals and the most generous OS support structure, recognising that SMEs want to sweat their investments for up to 10 years.
On the issue of firmware, it is also worth mentioning Mobility DNA – Zebra’s ecosystem of software solutions and MX extensions into Android. Android is essentially a consumer level OS, and lacks the enterprise level tools that business needs and Mobility DNA provides. With 27 mobility DNA applications, Zebra offers a platform based set of tools around device management, battery diagnostics and management, security, data capture, staging , voice differentiation, WLAN diagnostics (to name but a few) to deliver an enterprise level package. To many people this is meaningless jargon and features lightly in product evaluation …. until your IT department try to manage your platform and keep it performing at full efficiency. Only in the last 12 months has any competitor started to address this and at the present time they are significantly behind.